It’s My Party, and I’ll Cry If I Want To – Part 1

June 25, 2012

baby with food on face, in party hat, crying with wide open mouth
This baby isn’t me, just a picture on the internet. (I’m gonna see if my parents have one of me, ’cause that’d be more fun.)

Get a planet smoothie, and settle into a comfy chair. We’re in for a rant.

June 25. My birthday. Here’s one thing about birthdays – everyone wants to know how old you are.

And I’m so weird about it.

People hate the way I react when someone asks me about my age. I hate it too. Even more than you hate it, I promise. I get physically uncomfortable, shifting my weight, and crumpling up into odd shapes. I start tripping over my words, forming a bunch of non-coherent, incomplete thoughts.

Why am I so hesitant to shout my chronological age from the rooftops? I live and work in Los Angeles.  My livelihood depends on it. That’s not an exaggeration.

In front of the camera, behind the camera. Everywhere. I kid you not when I say that I’ve seen a listing for a production manager – a completely behind-the-scenes, doesn’t-need-to-look-a-certain-age-for-story-believability-purposes – job that actually said:

“Must have/be:
– field experience
– excellent filmmaking knowledge
– young (to fit well in the crew <35)”

Are you joking me? That’s gotta be at least a little illegal, right? It is only one example of about a billion in which youth is everything.

I want to hang out with him.

That job listing is so silly! You think people can’t get along with someone older than them? Some of my favorite people in this world are in their 50s or 60s. Forget my circle of friends since you don’t know them. Let’s use celebrity examples for a second. If someone offered me the chance to hang out with, say, Dustin Hoffman or Snooki, obviously I’d pick Dustin Hoffman in a millisecond.

Being young doesn’t make you special.

Being different, being interesting, being caring are among many things that make you special.

I have amazing friends whose ages range from late teens to early seventies. You meet people. You work with people. You find common ground.

I remember when I was fresh off the boat (read: fresh out of high school), and I was working consistently in regional theater. (I was incredibly lucky and happy to get my Equity card as a teenager.) In some of the first shows I worked on, I was one of very few people under 35.

It feels weird sometimes when people want to go out to a bar after a show, and you’re not old enough to get in. Things were different from the way they’d been in my high school bubble. A bunch of people I was working with were married and had kids. (Kids! Whoa, right?) At the time, I’ll admit that I felt a little like a koala out of a forest of eucalyptus trees. (I was looking for something to say other than “fish out of water.”)

But now that I’m (gulp) in my twenties, the differences between various ages don’t seem nearly as pronounced. (Maybe it’s partly because I feel as though I’ve lived three lifetimes in the past few years.) Really though. People can easily have tons in common with someone two, three, five decades older or younger than them. They could just as easily have nothing in common with people their own age. It happens. A lot.

You don’t need me to yammer on (I yammer a lot) about specific examples of people my age  with whom I have absolutely nothing in common (and I pretty much wish to never spend another minute), or about people not-my-age whom I’d love to listen to for hours, hanging on every word. (I’m sure there are enough examples in your life.)

A quick note here, ’cause I’ve been talking about having things in common. I don’t mean that we all have to enjoy the exact same hobbies, or have the same political viewpoints, etc. Differences add a dynamic to friendships, and can make things interesting.

I just mean finding people you click with – for instance, people who enjoy laughter. We all cry and scream sometimes, and that’s totally healthy. I am more than happy to sit over a pint of Ben and Jerry’s or go on a 13-mile run anytime a friend needs me. Life can be rough. Part of the human experience is dealing with that. (Heck, I’m smack in the middle of a long complain-y rant right at this moment!)

But overall, there is an unbelievable amount of joy in the world if you look for it. (You don’t have to look all that hard.) I adore the people whose eyes are open to the hilarity of life, and I do my best to keep up with their amazing energy.

This rant is so not over. More on this tomorrow.

I'd love to hear from you! So whaddya say?